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The Tri-State's Most Up-To-Date Gardening News
From Al Krismer Plant Farm
January 2018
-- January Garden Tips

Greetings Gardening Enthusiast,

Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday's dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.


January Garden Tips
Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs
  • Now is the time t pan for this year's garden. Pull out all of those seed catalogues and gardening magazines and start planning your Spring 2018 garden. For information on catalogs go to the CYNDI'S CATALOG OF GARDEN CATALOGS website. Over 2000 catalogs are listed by various categories.


  • Confused about mail ordering plants? Are you concerned about being ripped off? Then go to Dave's Garden Watchdog site where you see how other gardeners rate their experiences with online nurseries and mailorder websites. This site has 15,000 plus subscribers.
  • Purchase seeds and seed starting supplies this month. If you save seeds from year to year, check for viability now. Place several seeds on a damp paper towel and keep in a plastic bag. Check them after the expected germination time has elapsed (usually stated on the seed packet). If less than 75% have sprouted you may want to purchase new seed. Consider purchasing a fluorescent light to hang over seedlings started indoors

    For more info on seed testing click here
  • If it should snow, carefully place shoveled snow over perennials. Snow will insulate the plants from cold temperatures. The temperature below the snow increases by 2F for each inch of accumulation. Do not use snow that has salt in it.
  • Watch for signs of soft or moldy bulbs if stored over winter. If they have started to rot or decay, remove them and throw them out. (This can occur if moisture gets into storage area.)
  • It's not to early to begin to think of a strategy for new spring plantings. You might want to create a small map of your garden, and use it as a guide for ordering plants and seeds from the catalogs which will be arriving in the mail soon.
  • Check on pots of any bulbs you forced late last fall. Most forced bulbs need 12-15 weeks of chilling. Remove them into warmth and sunlight indoors when the tips are 1-2 inches high and/or roots are growing out of the drainage holes
  • Inspect perennial beds for heaved plants during warm periods. Mulch around heaved plants but don't push them into the soil! Dig and replant them in the spring
  • If you start seeds under grow lights or fluorescent shop lights indoors, check the tubes for signs of age. Tubes that have been used for two to three seasons probably have lost much of their intensity even though they look fine. Dark rings on the ends of the tubes are a sign they need to be replaced

House Plants:

  • African violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given supplemental light or bright northern light. To propagate new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder, and stick the cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with a perforated clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll have new plants.
  • During the winter most houses are too dry for house plants. Humidity may be increased by placing plants on trays lined with pebbles and filled with water to within one half inch of the base of the pot. If you heat with wood, keep a pot of water on the stove. The added moisture will be healthier for you as well as your plants
  • Turn houseplants on windowsills 180 degrees after every watering. This practice will prevent that stretched out to the sun look.
  • House plants with large leaves and smooth foliage, such as philodendrons, dracaena and rubber plant benefit if their leaves are washed at intervals to remove dust and grime, helping keep the leaf pores open
  • To maintain healthy indoor plants in winter, feed monthly at 1/2 strength, rotate to ensure adequate and even light and use a moisture meter to monitor watering needs
  • Check the leaves of your houseplants for insect problems like scale, mites and mealy bugs. If you detect a problem, take a sample to a reputable garden center and one of their plant specialists will diagnose the problem and recommend the appropriate control. There are many ready-use spray products that contain Pyrethrins and/or Resmethrins, which are safe for indoor use.
  • Keep a pitcher of room temperature water ready for watering houseplants
  • Suspect overwatering if your plants' lower (older) leaves are yellowing and dropping. Overwatering prevents roots from getting oxygen for proper growth. The result is root rot, and possibly death. Rotted roots can't take up water, so plants wilt. Gardeners often mistake this for dryness, so water more and make the problem even worse.


Garden Maintenance:

  • Use plant friendly materials to melt ice on walks or driveways. Urea (46.0.0), Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Nitrate, Calcium Chloride and sand are all safe to apply near lawns and plants
  • Use discarded holiday greens and boughs to cover tender plants in the garden. Remember to remove them in early spring as the weather warms up.
  • Other gardening tips for this month include fertilizing flowering houseplants, keeping bird feeders filled, and ordering seeds online or from catalogs for spring sowing. Visit the National Gardening Association�s web site for more information on gardening and regional reports. Click here
  • Sometimes in the middle of winter we suddenly get a few warm, sunny days. For the most part this is not a big problem, but you may need to ventilate your rose cones and coldframes to prevent heat from building up inside. Remember to close the vents before the temperature drops again at night.
  • If the ground is workable at all (not frozen and not too wet), now is an excellent time to turn the soil. Not only will this expose insect eggs to the effects of winter and hungry birds, the freezing will help to break apart heavy clods of dirt.
  • While snow makes a good protective cover for plants, if you use salt to melt ice on driveways or walkways, be careful not to pile snow from these areas on your plants or where melting snow will drain onto them. After the snow melts, flush the area around the roots exposed to salt with fresh water

Shrubs and Trees:

  • Snow removal from shrubs should be done with care using an upward motion. If a heavy layer of ice forms, leave it to thaw naturally. Severe damage and breakage can occur while attempting to remove built up ice.
  • Now is the time to order bare-root fruit trees online or through catalogs, sources that offer a wide selection. Bare-root trees are shipped in late winter or early spring before they start to grow, but in time for immediate planting in your area
  • Outdoors, prevent salt damage to plants and trees by using environmentally friendly salts, kitty litter, plant fertilizer, or sand on icy walks and driveways. Protect shrubs growing under the eaves of your house by wrapping them with burlap to protect them from ice falling from the roof.
  • Apply an anti-desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf or Winter Shield to azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies and other broad-leafed evergreens to minimize moisture loss during the cold, windy winter. Do this when the temperature is above 45 degrees F. It is important to protect these broad-leafed evergreens for they have more surface area of leaf tissue, which can lose moisture from the drying effects of the wind.

For more info on winter care of the landscape click here

Lawn Care:

  • Avoid heavy traffic on the dormant lawn. Dry grass is easily broken and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed
  • Even though the ground may be white and spring is far away, it's not too early to start planning ahead to your 2007 lawn care schedule. For example, major projects (such as putting in a new lawn), routine maintenance, or addressing specific problems need to be done at the right time, so a reminder on the calendar helps when that month arrives.

For more tips on winter lawn care click here

Winter Water Garden Care:

  • If you have a water feature, be sure to check the pumps to make sure they are working properly. Larger pumps that move a lot of water typically will keep running throughout the winter without any problem, however, smaller pumps, will most likely freeze and should be turned off for the winter
  • Ensure that the fish are ok. If your pond freezes DON'T HIT THE ICE TO BREAK IT. Instead, use hot water to melt a hole. Place a ball on the surface to stop the hole freezing up
  • The ice on the pond must be kept open to prevent gases from building up during the winter. Only a small hole is needed to be ice free
  • Submersible pumps that are turned off for the winter should be kept in water. Allowing a pump to dry can reduce the lifespan of the pump.
More tips on winter pond care click here

Critter Care:

  • Feed the birds regularly and see that they have water. Birds like suet, fruit, nuts, and bread crumbs as well as bird seed.

  • Click here on directions for making home made suet.
  • Follow these cold weather bird-feeding tips to attract birds to your yard.
  1. Place birdfeeders where you can see the birds.
  2. Mount birdfeeders on poles or wires at least five to six feet above the ground. Cover for the birds such as trees and shrubs should be within five feet of the feeder.
  3. Provide birds with high-energy suet feeders. Suet feeders can be made from beef suet or lard mixed with birdseed, oatmeal, and cornmeal


Monthly Garden Tips are sent out by Al Krismer Plant Farm during the year. Look for the Tips and the expanded e-news before the 10th of the month. Quick Links below

The purpose of the website links and other news articles is to provide information to the reader and in no way implies a particular endorsement or recommendation of that particular website or any content or material within the website


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